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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Spells for Cells

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Last year at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies I spoke about PTSD, what it was like coming home and what many of us are dealing with. While my dealings with some of experiences in Iraq may be rough and troublesome, the hardest part was coming home and returning to civilian life.

After everything that I had been through, and strangely enough, everything I have become accustom to, I had a much more difficult time integrating back into "normal" life and relating to "normal" people (civilians). I soon discovered that most people had equal difficulty relating to me. There were many awkward silences because they didn't know what or what not say, and neither did I.

It's been nine years since I came home with sand in my boots. I've slowly become more comfertable, I have learned to talk openly and people have learned to talk back. Having experienced it myself, I tend to notice it and I continue to see this type social tension in our community. But this awkward social tension is not limited to our returning warriors, the same type of social anxiety also exists between our communities and the incoming Pagan parolees I like to call "Outmates."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ulf
    Ulf says #
    Thanks for writing this. I have been involved in the community for 30+ years. I wanted to add my voice on an aspect of this that p
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    Not everyone is cut out for a prison ministry of presence, but everyone can actively engage in a community ministry of compassion.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Unpopularity Contest

Synchronicity is a mysterious muse who has always danced in periphery of my life. I have seen her out of the corner of my eye on what often seems to be a daily basis. Today was no different except to say, this time she danced across my news feed.

The other night as I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and came across a post by Witches & Pagans editor Anne Newkirk Niven. She had written that she had just gotten her a** handed to her by some readers regarding her editorial. Being no stranger to having my a** handed to me, I was among the first to offer a supportive comment.

The next morning I found a related link to Peter Dybing's Pagan In Paradise post about Pagan Intolerance. And Being no stranger to having my a** handed to me, I was quite happy the issue is finally being addressed. And I am a huge proponent of "Sacred Regard."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Freeman Presson
    Freeman Presson says #
    It seems that the more marginal a community is, the more viciously it chews at non-conforming members. We learned some lessons the
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    I'm sure your right Gary, I've seen the power and control issues present in many social groups and communities I've had the pleasu
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    good post Joseph i feel your pain. of course this problem is ubiquitous in all religious communities. ever been to a bible stud

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Years ago I started a little blog called The Ink Blot Tarot, and most people know me from that blog as WitchDoctorJoe (all one word, please just humor me.) It started as a publicly-private journal of one of my second degree CraftWork projects. I may not a good writer, but I know I'm not very good at writing. I'm very self-aware that my spelling is a borderline disability, that I am punctuationally impaired and that I drive the grammar Nazis completely insane. Mostly because I tend to make up my own words, which I enjoy, because somehow you always know what I mean when I do it. My favorite thing is to take a few words, capitalize them, and then smash them together into one word like CraftWork. Regardless of how bad of a writer I may be, I am in fact extremely comfortable writing.

Or at least I was until I realized how many people were reading my blog, then I became nervous, uncertain and uncomfortable. I became very careful and very guarded with my words and feelings; and my interest began to wane. I am simply not the guarded type. I have no problem spilling my guts, sharing my intimate thoughts, feelings and fears. For example, I love chick flicks like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and I wet the bed until I was almost ten.

So being a little Wiccan fish in a big Pagan pond, I was very honored and excited to be ask to write for Witches & Pagans. But I've hardly written much here, until recently. I haven't written much here because I again felt myself become guarded, because for me, this is the big time, and I really need to bring my *A* game. And because everyone will see it, so I really need to be careful about what I say and how I say it. Right? But I was invited to come and contribute here in this space for a reason, and I suspect that reason may possibly have something to do with what and how I was writing back at the RattleBone. So I'm going back to doing what got me here in the first place, just being me, unguarded.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jackie Moore
    Jackie Moore says #
    Hello Witchdoctor Joe! I am wondering when you will finally finish your "Spells for Cells". The whole thing was to be four (4) art
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Jackie, life is what happens while we're making plans; I simply got busy and fell behind. I will be writing quite extensively in t
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Thank you!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As promised this the second edition of my new series about the more subtle nuances of Pagan Chaplaincy within the field of corrections, "Spells for Cells."

Over at the Wild Hunt today, Jason Pitzl-Waters posted A Quick Note on Avoiding Bottom-Feeding Trolls in Mass Media.  Pause for applause, because as always Jason is spot on in his perspective and approach to an issue. I'm a big fan of Trollspotting, it's required reading in our Coven, and I think it should so be everywhere elsewhere. Just sayin.

Much like one commenter, I'm also "as guilty as the next guy" of feeding the trolls of my past. And I had a very difficult time not dropping a house on Debra. But I commend myself, on my ability not too, and I'll be talking about how I did that below (whoop). But sometimes Trolls can serve a greater good. Like many people, she really pissed me off, which got the blood pumping, carrying fresh oxygen to my cobweb shrouded brain. There was a cough of dust and smoke, and I began firing on all pistons.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Spells for Cells part one

Back in July 2012 I wrote a piece announcing the establishment of the National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association. Since then the association has accrued a decent number of members. Considering how few Pagan Chaplains there are, we're looking pretty good. A little over a week ago we held our first annual forum at PantheaCon  and again I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out. Among those in attendance were Patrick McCollum, Selena Fox, Macha Nightmare and Glenn Turner. I personally felt honored by their presence.

Our presentation consisted of a brief introduction to the association; its mission, vision, membership, structure and development plans. I gave a short instructional vignette on essential texts related to chaplaincy within the field of corrections. This transitioned into an open discussion forum which covered a wide range of topics. Both Patrick and Selena shared valuable experience and insight on the past, present and future of Pagan Chaplaincy. The highlight of the evening for me personally was Patrick's heartfelt expression of support for the success of the association. And in the interest of full disclosure, I got a little misty eyed.

By the time we got back home and began unpacking the news that California may have to hire a Wiccan Chaplain was already well on its way to going viral. And given my obvious investment in the subject matter everyone I know began forwarding links to news feed via Facebook, instant messages and email. My computer lit up like a Samhain altar.

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National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association

Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and it has become my own personal mantra. It has been almost six years ago since I first sat across the table from Rev. Patrick McCollum in a roadside diner as he told me the story of how he became the first Wiccan chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He had a way of telling a story that kept me on the edge of my seat as he recounted the relentless onslaught of religious discrimination he personally experienced trying to provide religious services to Wiccan inmates.

I was shocked to hear that the first time he attempted to enter a prison to provide religious services he was spit on by a uniformed correctional officer. The frustrating irony was that it was institutional staff that had called him and asked for his help. Wiccan inmates had won a legal suit and the prison was required to provide them with religious accommodations, so officials requested that Patrick volunteer his time and money, make the long journey to their somewhat remote location to assist them. But when he did, they did everything they could to stop him.

He warned me about the various challenges of the mission, should I choose to accept it. But I had just moved back home after almost ten years in the United States Army, including a tour in Iraq. So I was more than confident, I was cocky. I remember Patrick saying he thought I had what it took to do services at Corcoran State Prison, I always took that as an enormous compliment and hoped I would someday live up to that impression.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jackie Moore
    Jackie Moore says #
    I love that I am the first to comment on this posting. I am jumping and shouting as I write this, as I think it is about time that
  • Jackie Moore
    Jackie Moore says #
    I said my son's only source of spiritual guidance was from a minister in Idaho. What I neglected to say was that he is a Wiccan Mi

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